As a pastor, one of the biggest lies from Hell I ever believed is the myth that things would be easier once we got to a certain point. I learned the hard way that was often not the case! Years later, after coaching hundreds of leaders, I often hear leaders who have also bought into the myth that it will be easier out there in the future somehow. See if any of these statements sound vaguely familiar at all:
“If we can get over this ______ attendance barrier, I will feel so much better.”
The truth was that things didn’t get easier with God’s blessing. They became more complex! I soon learned that with greater blessing comes greater responsibility! As we hurdled each attendance barrier, I began to notice that I wasn’t any happier after leaping the hurdle, than before we had done so. I learned the hard way that if I based my contentment and happiness on breaking the next attendance goal, I would never be happy for long. The elation I felt after leaping each hurdle lasted hours or a few days. Then, the next Sunday was always coming...and it was usally a holiday weekend! I think you understand.
“When we get to $_________ financially we'll be over the hump.”
I remember thinking at one point early on in our church plant: “If we could ever get to a million dollars a year in the budget, we will be set!” I soon learned that as the ministry grows, everything is just more expensive! I learned that we aren’t responsible for resources we don’t have. We are only responsible for what we do have! I learned not to focus on what we couldn’t do because of what we didn’t have. I began to focus on doing what we could with what we had! I learned that if we were faithful with what we had, more would be entrusted to us!
“Once we hire this position, it’s going to be so much easier on me.”
In my coaching with leaders, I hear this almost every week. I once thought the same way. I tended to think that: “One we hire this staff person, it will be easier for me. ” I soon learned that every staff person...was a sinner! I soon learned that just like me, every person we hired... brought their own flaws and brokenness, as well as the complexity of our organizational structure, systems, and communication processes. I learned that more staff can make us more effective, but it can also make us more stressed out!
“After we get through this season, we will be fine!”
I soon began to realize that ministry is always in a season! Ministry really never “slows down.” I learned that ministry will take and take and take until we have nothing else to give, if we’re simply waiting for things to slow down. I learned that couldn;t wait for things to slow down. I needed to take the initiative to CREATE seasons of rest following seasons of intensity. I learned to live my life in rhythm the way God created us. I learned the hard way that resting for God is just as important as working for God.
In all of this, what have I learned? Well, honestly it’s not so much what I have learned, as it is what I am still learning. I am learning that If I’m not happy now, I won’t be happy later. I’m learning that more people, more resources, and more stuff will not satisfy my soul. I’m learning that I can walk in the Spirit and experience the fruits of the Spirit, regardless of external pressures. I am learning that I can focus on today and not worry about tomorrow, as Jesus commanded. I am learning that I should not place a yolk on myself that Jesus hasn’t placed on me. I’m learning that that it’s Jesus’ job to produce the fruit. My job is to abide in Him!
I am learning to enjoy the journey, not just the arrival.
My advice to you today? Do the same. Pause. Slow down. Smell the roses. Enjoy the small victories. Celebrate where you are. Celebrate where you have come from. You haven’t arrived...but that’s part of the beauty. Joy can be found in the journey...not just the arrival.